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A Meta-Analysis: Has the Academic Impact of Religious Schools Changed Over The Last Twenty Years?

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A meta-analysis was undertaken, including 56 studies, to determine whether the influence of religious schools versus public schools on student academic achievement has changed over the past twenty-five or thirty years. The analysis examined studies undertaken at both the elementary and secondary school level. The results indicate that at both the elementary school level and the secondary school level, as well as both levels combined, there were no statistically significant differences that emerged. This finding held not only for the aggregate measures of academic achievement, but for all the specific measures of academic achievement, a total of twenty-four comparisons overall. There was, however, a statistically significant interaction. That is, in early studies religious schools tended to especially have an advantage at the elementary school level. In more recent analyses, the advantage was particularly larger at the secondary school level. The results indicate that the influence of religious schools versus public schools on student educational outcomes has remained quite consistent over time.


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